Module LXS-3034:
Spain through its Writers

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr David Miranda-Barreiro

Overall aims and purpose

Travel Writing has been extensively practiced by Spanish authors, by those who specialise in the genre as well as novelists and poets who have reflected upon their experiences in other countries in the form of a travelogue. However, travel writing has not been restricted to narrating the encounter with other cultures, but has also helped Spanish writers discover and construct their own. This module will examine representations of Spain as seen by Spanish travel writing and its authors from the early twentieth century until the present day. It will focus on a variety of texts divided in three different historical periods: the pre-Civil War years, the Francoist dictatorship and democratic Spain.

Course content

This module will explore how images of Spain as seen through its writers have changed over the past 100 years, by focusing on the genre of Travel Writing. It will start by providing an overview on the conventions of the genre, both in general and with a particular focus on travelogues by Spanish writers. Subsequently, students will read a series of selected extracts from different texts, which will be commented and analysed in the classroom. Although a selection of extracts will be provided, some of them will constitute compulsory reading. The first section will focus on the pre-Civil War period through the following indicative themes: the use of landscape in the construction of national identity (Azorín), travel writing as an initiation into literature (García Lorca) and the contrast between Spain and Europe (Julio Camba).
The second part of the module will focus on the literary representations of Spain during the Francoist period. This period saw the publication of one of the milestones of the genre in Spanish literature, Viaje a la Alcarria by Nobel Prize winner Camilo José Cela, in which the author provides a personal account of rural Spain. Finally, the module will explore representations of Spain during the democratic period, with Julio Llamazares' use of memory in his travel writing.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

D- - D+: A basic understanding of the genre of Travel Literature and its evolution in Spanish literature since the beginning of the 20th century through the texts analysed in class. At least partly successful attempts to frame an argument utilising secondary materials.

good

C- - B+: For the award of higher grades, students should demonstrate the ability to relate each text to its historical period and to compare them, highlighting their differences and similarities. Good understanding of both the conventions of the genre and how they have been developed in Spanish literature. Solid analysis of topic area, making good use of relevant sources to support argument.

excellent

A- - A*: For the award of the highest grade, students should demonstrate a detailed comprehension of the various topics studied, with a nuanced understanding of the correlations and interrelations highlighted, having also analysed and evaluated key sources thoroughly. Excellent understanding of the genre and excellent knowledge of its evolution in contemporary Spanish literature, making excellent use of secondary materials and an impressive depth and subtlety of analysis.

Learning outcomes

  1. To demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the texts selected and to be able to place them in their social, historical and cultural context.

  2. To understand how images of Spain have evolved in writing through history.

  3. To achieve an understanding of Spanish culture and how key national conflicts have been reflected in literary texts.

  4. To demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the genre of Travel Writing (both with regard to global and specifically Spanish trends).

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ORAL Individual Presentation

8 minutes presentation in Week 7.

You’ll have to:

a) Choose a chapter from a list provided by the lecturer. The chapters will be from Azorín’s El paisaje de España, Federico García Lorca’s Impresiones y Paisajes and Julio Camba’s La rana viajera.

b) Explain how the chosen extract reflects Spanish society at the time, focusing especially on the specific city/ region it depicts. c) Analyse its literary style, focusing especially on tropes, style and characteristics of travel writing that can be found in the chosen extract, providing examples. Questions will be asked after the presentation.

20
Written assignment, including essay Stylistic Commentary

Please make sure that your choice of topic does not overlap with the topic of your presentation.

You’ll have to:

Produce a written analysis of an extract taken from one of the core texts (provided by the lecturer and available from Blackboard). Your analysis should focus especially on stylistic features of travel writing (style, language, vocabulary, tropes, themes, etc.) that can be found in the extract. More information and guidelines about this assignment will be given in class.

40
ESSAY Essay

Please make sure that your choice of topic does not overlap with the topic of your presentation and stylistic commentary.

Essay questions:

1) In La rana viajera, Julio Camba provides a revealing view of the relations between centre and periphery in early twentieth-century Spain. Discuss his views on Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia in relation to the political and social context of the country in 1920.

2) Camilo José Cela’s Viaje a la Alcarria has been interpreted in different ways regarding the book’s engagement with social issues in 1940s rural Spain (Pozuelo Yvancos, Peñate Rivero, Ridao). Discuss these interpretations and the presence or absence of social criticism in Cela’s text.

3) In El río del olvido, Julio Llamazares narrates his return to familiar places, but he states that: ‘el viajero reconoce cada curva y cada cuesta, pero, a pesar de ello, no consigue evitar la sensación de volver ahora a La Mata como si fuera un forastero. […] Quizá porque, en el fondo, en el país de la infancia, todos somos extranjeros’ (p. 90). Discuss in relation to the theme of memory in Llamazares’ travel book.

4) Carl Thompson argues that ‘any form of travel text is always a constructed, crafted artefact, which should never be read naively as just a transparent window on the world’. Using this statement as starting point, examine the ‘Truth-Lie-Dichotomy in relation to one of the core texts read in the module.

5) According to Tzvetan Todorov, ‘the “true” travel narrative, from the point of view of the contemporary reader, recounts the discovery of others, either savages of faraway lands or the representatives of non-European civilizations’. How can we consider the possibility of ‘domestic travel’ in the light of this statement? Discuss by taking one of the core texts read in the module as a case-study.

40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study 178
 
  1. 1-hour lecture where an introduction to contents will be delivered (weekly for 11 weeks)
  2. 1-hour seminar for textual analysis and critical discussion on the extracts provided (weekly for 11 weeks)
  3. The students will be expected to do some preliminary reading, both on the texts discussed in class and on the items recommended in the general bibliography.
 
Lecture

1 lecture and 1 seminar per week.

22

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Extract and synthesise key information from written and/or spoken sources in English / Welsh and/or the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
  • The ability to gather information, analyse, interpret and discuss different viewpoints and to place these in a wider socio-cultural and/or geo-historical and political and/or socio-linguistic context and to revise and re-evaluate judgements in light of those of the course leader, certain individuals or groups studied and/or fellow students. (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.15 and 5.16)
  • The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
  • The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to work creatively and flexibly both independently and/or as part of a team. (Benchmark statement 5.15).
  • The ability and willingness to engage with and appreciate other cultures and to articulate to others (in written and verbal form) the contribution that the culture has made at a regional and global level. (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
  • Critical understanding of key topics in the sphere of modern critical, cultural and translation theory, highlighting landmark figures and offering close readings of segments of their texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to organise and present ideas and arguments in presentations, classroom discussions and debates. (Benchmark statement 5.14, 5.16)
  • Develop reading and audio-visual comprehension skills in the target language through the study of primary sources in the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.3, 5.4)
  • The ability to develop and manage an independent research project in English/Welsh. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.15, 5.16)
  • Skills in the critical reading and analysis of literary and/or musical and/or filmic texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to critically understand, analyse and interpret the main events shaping Spanish history and culture (benchmark statement 5.7, 5.10 and 5.11)
  • The ability to critically understand Spanish and Hispanic culture and its relationship to other cultures. (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to critically understand a specific aspect of Spanish or Latin American culture. (Benchmark statement 5.7, 5.10)
  • The ability to analyse Spanish-language texts (incl. films, visual materials and ideas) and place them in a wider historical-political and socio-cultural context. (Benchmark statement 5.4, 5.7, and 5.11)
  • The ability to critically understand Spanish culture and society through the study of different literary movements in Spanish contemporary literature, placing a specific emphasis on the genre of travel writing. (Benchmark statements 5.7, 5.10)
  • The ability to develop and manage an independent research project in the target language. (Benchmark statement 5.3, 5.4, 5.10, 5.15, 5.16)
  • The ability to critically understand the impact and effects of the Civil War and the Francoist dictatorship in Spanish contemporary society (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to critically understand the on-going debates about the role played by memory and forgetting in Spanish contemporary history (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • 9.The ability to critically understand key topics in the sphere of modern critical, cultural and translation theory, highlighting landmark figures and offering close readings of segments of their texts. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
  • The ability to critically understand Spanish culture and society through the study of different literary movements in Spanish contemporary literature, placing a specific emphasis on the genre of travel writing. (Benchmark statements 5.7, 5.10)
  • The ability to critically understand the impact and effects of the Civil War and the Francoist dictatorship in Spanish contemporary society (Benchmark statement 5.7)
  • The ability to critically understand the on-going debates about the role played by memory and forgetting in Spanish contemporary history (Benchmark statement 5.7)

Resources

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: